of Quentaris - Margo Lanagan
When I agreed to write a Quentaris book, I’d just finished putting
together a collection of very densely-written short stories that
had taken me about three years to write. The idea of writing a short,
fast-paced adventure story, with the action planned out in advance,
was very attractive!
I wrote it while commuting by train to my day job. I broke the story
down into 20 chapters to start with, and wrote about a chapter a
day, roughly 2 pages on the morning train and 2 in the afternoon.
When I was really on a roll, I'd put in a bit of work on it in the
evenings at the kitchen table as well. The first draft took about
six weeks to write, using this method.
But like most of my first drafts, it was too long, and when I cut
it to fit the word limit, I cut the wrong bits out. This took a
bit of fixing afterwards – another day or so at the kitchen
table, pulling the early chapters apart and then sewing them carefully
back together so that the joins wouldn't show. I’d also got the
story told at the expense of the characters, so I had to go back
and inject a bit more life into them afterwards.
All in all it was a fun project. I got to explore three rift worlds
and find lots of different kinds of treasure. It was interesting using
the shared world – a bit like walking around in a dream someone
else is having, trying to control bits of it! And Quentaris is a cool
world, with lots of possibilities for adventure.
Tikko knows that some day she’ll be a guide, like her brothers
and sisters - but so soon? Lord Eustachio Doro isn't even sure he
wants to follow his family's tradition and explore other worlds. Find
out what happens when this unlikely pair are thrown together to hunt
for treasure in the rift caves near Quentaris. Will they win glory
and do their families proud, or fall headlong into disaster?
Carla Doro’s desert emptiness, the colours and the glittering
surfaces – whether great slabs of amethyst and topaz or rainbow
veins of opal running through the boulders in bands – were almost
too intense and varied for Tikko’s eyes to bear.
And that’s strange too, she thought, toiling up a low ridge
that was topped with a row of gigantic thorn-like ebony spikes. So
many different kinds of jewels, in a single place – that’s
not natural. Usually an area is good for diamonds, or you have a gold
mine, or a moonstone-fossicking place. Someone’s collected these
and piled them up here.
Higher up, a huge, glassy globe was set in the wall of the ridge.
Inside the globe, it looked as if an iridescent golden curtain was
suspended, a curtain that someone had slashed open in the middle with
a single downward sword-stroke, revealing blackness behind, which,
as Tikko passed, turned red, then black again.
And the globe blinked.
Tikko went absolutely still, hoping she was mistaken. My lord! she
called out in her mind, for she didn’t have any breath to shout
The globe turned. Now she clearly saw that what she had thought was
a rock wall was black-brown reptilian skin, square-patterned like
a crocodile’s – but much bigger than a crocodile’s.
The black slit-pupil of the eye turned red again, a brighter red and
more hypnotic. Tikko felt magic flow around her like a warm breeze
laden with needles. It spun her brain in its skull.
Then the eye blinked again: a sleeve of damp skin unwrinkled up from
below and wiped the already flawless globe-surface with an extra layer
For a half-moment, during the blink, the magic weakened, and in that
fragment of time Tikko gave a shout, and threw herself away from the
eye, not knowing whether she was about to impale herself on crystal-shards
or crack her head open on a diamond boulder, only knowing that she
must break out of the spell the monster was casting on her.
She tumbled out of control. Flashes of colour streaked past her eyes.
She was no longer falling; she was being shrugged off, shaken aside,
by some powerful movement under the hill – no, of the hill itself.
In horror, she realised that the whole jewel-studded hill was the
monster with the eye. Eustachio’s chipping and Tikko’s
walking had woken it, and it was not happy.